Art Market Report: Online Focus was launched today, June 29th, at a packed breakfast in London for the TEFAF dealer community. Written by Professor Rachel Pownall, the trend report looks at the extent to which the art world is embracing digital opportunities and the impact new technology is having on the art market.
Well-established international auction houses are leading the field in e-commerce and online engagement, leveraging their brands to advantage in the online space. Auction houses are using e-commerce, either through developing their own platforms or using third-party platforms, to reach new buyers and collectors, a trend that is only likely to accelerate.
Dealers have been slow to adapt to new technology, with a third operating off-line only, and 20% of galleries and dealers surveyed saying they have no intention to move online. Although the dealer market for online sales of art and antiques is currently small, the growth stated by dealers in the TEFAF Art Market Report 2017, released in March 2017 during TEFAF Maastricht, is high at 18.8%, meaning that although overall engagement is low, sales online are expanding.
Fastest growth is seen at the lowest price points, which is bringing new buyers into the market. Growth at the upper end of the market is being limited by issues of trust and transparency, but advances in technology may serve to address this. Young collectors and millennials, used to organising their lives via an electronic device and entirely comfortable with buying art and luxury goods online, are vitally important to future market growth at all price points.
To date, no one dominant player has yet emerged in the online market but those that are innovating and developing their product portfolio for example, Artsy, 1st Dibs and Invaluable - are those that are currently succeeding in this very competitive marketplace. There is a shakeout in this segment, as other business models falter or fail.
There is no doubt of the sheer potential of digital and mobile channels to impact the art business. The report confirms the suppositions that TEFAF had been making about dealer engagement with the opportunities that e-commerce can provide. To assist the dealer community in this endeavour, TEFAF is launching TEFAF TEN in partnership with Invaluable.
In the lead up to TEFAF New York Fall (October 28 November 1), a different group of ten Fall exhibitors will be highlighted each month on both TEFAF.com and Invaluable.com via a dedicated microsite. Each participant in TEFAF TEN can highlight eight to twelve works on this microsite, with a view to marketing the TEFAF dealer community to a receptive online audience (the Invaluable website has 3 million unique monthly visitors). The microsite will profile TEFAF TEN dealers and highlight a wide variety of objects. It will also have a Buy Now capability.